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Authors: Sbarra, P.* 
Fodarella, A.* 
Tosi, P.* 
De Rubeis, V.* 
Rovelli, A.* 
Title: Difference in shaking intensity between short and tall buildings: known and new findings
Issue Date: 2015
Series/Report no.: /105 (2015)
DOI: 10.1785/0120140341
Keywords: Macroseismics
building height
Subject Classification04. Solid Earth::04.06. Seismology::04.06.04. Ground motion 
04. Solid Earth::04.06. Seismology::04.06.06. Surveys, measurements, and monitoring 
Abstract: We investigate the influence of building height on the ability of people to feel earthquakes and observe that, in an urban area, short and tall buildings reach different levels of excitation. We quantify this behavior by analyzing macroseismic reports collected from individuals through the Internet, focusing on transitory effects, therefore in the elastic regime during recent earthquakes in Italy in the local magnitude (ML) range of 3 to 5.9. We find a maximum difference of 0.6 intensity units between the top floors of tall (7–10 stories) and short (1–2 stories) buildings at the highest considered magnitudes. As expected, tall buildings experience greater shaking than short buildings during large earthquakes at large source distances. However, we observe the opposite behavior at close distances when the ML is less than 3.5. These results can be explained by considering the different spectra radiated by small and large earthquakes and the different fundamental mode resonances of buildings (i.e., shorter buildings have higher resonance frequencies and vice versa). Using idealized building models excited by real acceleration time histories, we compute synthetic accelerograms on the top floors of short and tall buildings, and confirm the trend of the observed differences in felt intensities.
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